Kristina Abel, PhD

Abel, 11.11

Assistant Professor

Rm. 9029 Burnett-Womack Building

Campus Box CB #7292

(919) 843-9560



The primary research focus of our lab is on host-pathogen interactions in infectious diseases. The lab is actively involved in HIV pathogenesis and vaccine studies using the nonhuman primate model of SIV infection in rhesus macaques. Together with collaborators at the Albert-Einstein College in New York, we are currently testing a novel pediatric combination HIV-TB vaccine for immunogenicity and efficacy. We are particularly interested in pediatric HIV transmission by breast-feeding and the early, local host immune responses. Not only are neonates and infants especially vulnerable to infectious diseases, but disease outcome is often more severe than in adults. Therefore, we are pursuing immunological studies to determine whether differences in TLR, TCR, and cytokine signaling between infants and adults contribute to altered host immune responses associated with increased disease severity in infants. These studies are being performed with human and nonhuman primate samples. The knowledge gained could then be applied to pediatric vaccine design.

In addition, we are interested in HIV co-infections and how they influence HIV pathogenesis. We have developed a nonhuman primate model of SIV-malaria co-infection to study HIV-Plasmodium falciparum infection in humans. This model will allow us to study immune mechanisms responsible for disease exacerbation in HIV-malaria co-infected individuals. These studies will focus on the role of innate effector cells in pathogen clearance. We will collaborate with clinicians in Malawi to obtain human samples from co-infected individuals to validate data obtained in the rhesus macaque model and, conversely, to test novel hypotheses derived from human data in the macaque model.


K. Trott, J. Y. Chau, Hudgens, M.G., Fine, J., Mfalila, C.K., Tarara, R.P., Collins, W., Sullivan, J., Luckhart, S. and Abel, K. (2011): Evidence for an Increased Risk of SIV and Malaria Transmission in a Rhesus Macaque Co-Infection Model, J Virol, in press

M.L. Marthas, Van Rompay, K.K.A., Abbott, Z., Earl, P., Buoconore-Buzelli, L., Moss, B., Rose, N.F., Rose, J.K., Kozlowski, P.A. and Abel, K. (2011): Partial efficacy of a VSV-SIV/MVA-SIV vaccine regimen against oral SIV challenge in infant macaques. Vaccine, 29: 3124-3137

K. Abel, Martinez, J.,Yue, Y., Lacey, S.F., Wang, Z., Strelow, L., Dasgupta, A., Li, Z., Schmidt, K.A., Oxford, K.L., Assaf, B., Longmate, J.A., Diamond, D.J., and Barry, P.A. (2011): Vaccine-Induced Control of Viral Shedding Following Rhesus Cytomegalovirus Challenge in Vaccinated Rhesus Macaques (2011). J Virol, 85:2875-90.

Van Rompay, K.K., Abel, K., Earl, P., Kozlowski, P. A., Easlick, J., Moore, J., Buonocore-Buzzelli, L., Schmidt, K., Wilson, R.L., Simon, I., Moss, B., Rose, N., Rose, J., Marthas, M.L. (2011): Immunogenicity of viral vector, prime-boost SIV vaccine regimens in infant rhesus macaques: attenuated vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) recombinant SIV vaccines compared to live-attenuated SIV (2010). Vaccine, 28:1481-1492.

J. Easlick, S. Lantz, R. Szubin, N. Baumgarth, and Abel, K (2010): The early interferon alpha subtype response in infant macaques infected orally with SIV. Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, J. Acquir Immune Defic Syndr., 55:14-28

K. Abel. (2009): The rhesus macaque pediatric SIV infection model – a valuable tool in understanding HIV pathogenesis and for designing pediatric HIV-1 prevention strategies. Current HIV Research, 7:2-11

K. Abel, Yue Y., Strelow, L., Eberhardt, M. K. , Schmidt, K. A., Barry, P. A. (2008): A Heterologous DNA Prime/Protein Boost Immunization Strategy for Rhesus Cytomegalovirus Vaccine. Vaccine, 26:6013-25
*Hartigan-O’Connor, D., *K. Abel, J. M. McCune (2007): Suppression of SIV-specific CD4+T cells by infant but not adult macaque regulatory T cells: implications for SIV disease progression. J. Exp. Med., 11:2679-2692

Abel, K. Pahar, B., Van Rompay, K.K., Fritts, L., Sin, C., Schmidt, K., Colon, R., McChesney, M. Marthas, M. (2006): Rapid virus dissemination in infant macaques after oral SIV exposure in the presence of local innate immune responses. J. Virol., 80: 6357-6367

Wang, Y., K. Abel, K. Lantz, A.M. Krieg, M.-B. McChesney, C.J. Miller (2005). Intravaginally applied TLR7 or TLR9 agonists induce local production of antiviral cytokines and chemokines but do not prevent vaginal simian immunodeficiency virus transmission in rhesus macaques. J. Viorology, 79:14355-14370

Abel, K., D. Rocke, B. Chohan, L. Fritts, C.J. Miller (2005). The temporal and anatomic relationship between virus replication and cytokine gene expression after vaginal SIV infection. J. Viorology, 79:12164-12172